When Team USA lines up for the 2017 Motocross of Nations, it won’t be with our three very best riders. Due to reasons ranging from surgeries to scheduling conflicts, several top 450 riders passed on the race.
That didn’t used to happen.
After Team USA started winning in 1981, longtime team manager Roger DeCoster had his pick of the litter. Seven different times, he called upon Team Kawasaki’s Jeff Ward to race everything from 125s to 500s. Wardy answered the call every time—and Team USA won every time, making ward Ward the most successful American in Motocross des Nations history—including two years in the old Trophee des Nations for 250cc motorcycles. (Wardy is not the winningest rider of all time; that distinction will likely forever belong to DeCoster himself, with 16 wins for his native Belgium.)
With this year’s Motocross of Nations approaching on October 1 in Great Britain, Ward told us about each of his tours with Team USA.
1983 Motocross des Nations: Angreau, Belgium
After the Team Honda guys won the Motocross des Nations again in 1982, it got a little more serious, and all the manufacturers wanted to be involved. I was peaking in 1982. I won some 125 Nationals and was doing decent in supercross. I also did the 500cc USGP at Carlsbad, and I qualified on pole. I think that opened some eyes that I could ride a big bike.